Dizziness, or vertigo, is a frequently reported symptom among those seeking medical attention. Patients often describe their symptoms as their body moving in a swaying or rotating motion, the environment around them appearing to do so or both. Vertigo can have a diverse range of causes and presents with varying characteristics. However, certain factors can help narrow down the type of vertigo experienced, including the frequency and duration of attacks, potential triggers and accompanying symptoms.

Types of vertigo. There are several types of vertigo, each with distinct sensations. Rotational vertigo, commonly linked to vestibular neuritis, an inner ear disorder possibly caused by a viral infection, and other disorders, produces a merry-go-round sensation. Postural vertigo, which can give the sensation of being on a boat, may be caused by bilateral vestibulopathy which can be a chronic condition. Finally, some people experience dizziness or lightheadedness without any sense of movement, which is sometimes linked to drug intoxication or use.

Duration of episodes. The duration of vertigo episodes can vary greatly. Some attacks such as vestibular paroxysms, which can occur from compressed nerves, last only a few seconds or minutes; others can persist for hours, as in Meniere’s disease, a buildup of fluid in the inner ear, or vestibular migraine. Persistent episodes lasting for days to weeks can be a symptom of vestibular neuritis. Postural vertigo lasting for a few minutes and up to an hour may be due to brainstem transient ischemic attacks (TIA) and should be taken seriously. 

Triggers. Numerous triggers can result in vertigo including rest (vestibular neuritis), walking (bilateral vestibulopathy) or turning your head to the left or right (vestibular paroxysm). Additional common triggers include turning in bed (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV), pressure, coughing and exposure to loud tones at specific frequencies (Tullio phenomenon). Certain social or environmental triggers can also lead to phobic postural vertigo.

Additional symptoms. Several accompanying symptoms may be associated with vertigo. Meniere’s disease can cause intense tinnitus, hearing issues and pressure in the ear. Brainstem issues may cause diplopia, sensory disturbances and paralysis in the arms and legs. Headaches or migraines may be linked to vestibular migraine, brainstem ischemia or hemorrhage.

Vertigo is a complex condition that extends beyond dizziness or a spinning environment. Fortunately, with proper diagnosis and treatment, most cases of vertigo can resolve themselves. However, 20% to 30% of patients may experience vertigo for extended periods.

If prescribed medical therapies are not providing relief, acupuncture may offer an alternative. Chinese medicine considers vertigo to be caused by either an excess or deficiency in the head. Too much pathology in the form of wind, phlegm, qi, blood or yang can disrupt normal function, while not enough of these life forces can also lead to issues. To treat vertigo, it is necessary to maintain balance within the body.

As a licensed acupuncturist, I have successfully helped alleviate vertigo symptoms in patients, and there have been many clinical studies on the treatment. In 2015, a pilot study of over 60 individuals in an emergency room found that acupuncture significantly improved vertigo symptoms compared to the control counterparts. Additionally, a practitioner who treated 50 cases of vertigo with acupuncture reported a success rate of 78% in treating vertebrobasilar ischemic vertigo. 

Further research is necessary to fully comprehend the effects of acupuncture on vertigo. However, there is potential for positive outcomes. If you are open to exploring alternative forms of treatment, acupuncture is a safe option to consider.

Agustin Orozco is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine with AcQpoint Wellness Center and can be reached at (760) 345.2200 or www.acqpoint.com.

Sources available upon request.

Read or write a comment

Comments (0)


Living Wellness with Jenniferbanner your financial health michelle sarnamentoring the futureNaturopathic Family Medicine with Dr. ShannonThe Paradigm Shift in Medicine TodayConventionally Unconventional with Kinder Fayssoux, MD